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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

MORAL   JUDGMENTS    IN   HISTORY

The dispute concerned the assessment of an historical
personality, the verdict of posterity and of the kst
judgment—it was a question of the allowances to be
made in the summing-up of a man. The truth was that
Creighton could not know enough to exonerate.
Neither, on the other hand, did Acton in reality know
enough to condemn the man himself. It would have
been better to recognise that the historian is not com-
petent to make the necessary calculations, and that he
carries the whole issue into a different realm of thought.
It is not for him to steal the mantle of the ancient
prophets; and it is more fitting that he should keep
within the limits that his apparatus and evidence have
set for him. Within these limits he has indeed a more
important task ; for Creighton and Acton had not even
said the last word as yet towards the settlement of the
question -whether Alexander VI had actually committed
all the deeds imputed to him. Beyond that, it is the
'real service of the historian to assemble all that can be
gathered—everything relating to situation, circum-
stances, limiting conditions and preceding events—all
that will throw a further explanatory light upon the
conduct of this Pope. The historian will never be able
to settle the controversy between Creighton and Acton
or to determine whether Alexander VI had more than
his fair share in man's universal sin—more responsi-
bility than the rest of human nature. His function is to
surround the man with all that can be gathered in the
way of historical explanation.

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